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Fears for Somerset rail bridge as DfT goes silent

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SOMERSET COUNTY Council fears that Department for Transport (DfT) funding delays could jeopardise a vital £14.1M level crossing replacement project.

The council had won a provisional DfT commitment to put £10.17M of government money into construction of a bridge across the railway at Silk Mills, Taunton.

It has booked a track possession for next April and preparatory work has already begun.

But the Department has still to give final confirmation that it will release its contribution.

Now the council is worried that work costing £170,000 per week will be for nothing.

Somerset County Council transport cabinet member Tim Carroll said DfT officials had said budgetary pressures meant funding for all road schemes was under review.

He added: 'We cannot go on spending money on the project unless we know whether the major part of the cost is going to be underwritten by the government as promised.'

He said no information had been forthcoming from the DfT despite almost two months of pressing for an answer.

'We've been met by a wall of silence.

We are now on a wing and a prayer.

'If it goes pear-shaped it's the taxpayer in Somerset who will pick up the burden for entirely pointless work.'

He said the bridge was needed to relieve congestion in the centre of Taunton.

Traffic on the line has increased recently, forcing motorists to wait longer at the level crossing.

A DfT spokesman said an annual settlement announcement was expected at the end of November or start of December.

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